Sanskrit: नमस्ते [nʌmʌsˈteː] from external sandhi between namaḥ and te) is a common spoken greeting or salutation in the Indian subcontinent. It is derived from Hinduism and Buddhism, and in India it has multi-religious or else common usage where it may simply mean "I bow to you." In religious formulation, it can be translated as:
- "I bow to that inherent in you" ("that" here refers to divinity, or that which is divine')
- "I respect that divinity within you that is also within me."
- "the light within me honors the light within you" (in yoga)
When spoken to another person, it is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. The gesture can also be performed wordlessly and carry the same meaning. In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, upon departure only the wordless hands-folded gesture is made.
Meanings and interpretationNamaste is one of the few Sanskrit words commonly recognized by Non-Hindi speakers. In the West, it is often used to indicate South Asian culture in general. Namaste is particularly associated with aspects of South Asian culture such as vegetarianism, yoga, ayurvedic healing, and Hinduism.
In recent times, and more globally, the term "namaste" has come to be especially associated with yoga and spiritual meditation all over the world. In this context, it has been viewed in terms of a multitude of very complicated and poetic meanings which tie in with the spiritual origins of the word. Some examples:
- "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me." -- attributed to author Deepak Chopra
- "I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One."
- "I salute the God within you."
- "Your spirit and my spirit are ONE." -- attributed to Lilias Folan's shared teachings from her journeys to India.
- "That which is of the Divine in me greets that which is of the Divine in you."
- "The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you."
- "All that is best and highest in me greets/salutes all that is best and highest in you."
- "I greet the God within."